Truth Versus Fiction
Copyright (c) 2012 Grant Flint
THOUGHTS IN THE NIGHT
TRUTH VERSUS FICTION
I’m not interested in writers not like myself. Write fast. The first draft is the final draft.
Write as you do when you have procrastinated, the deadline is upon you, you must do it now! No time for second drafts. My most successful stories were written fast, one draft. Example: I wrote a short story a day for 30 days — 8 were published. The first draft is the final draft. The short story done in from one to three hours, depending upon length. 1000 words an hour. Five minutes to contemplate story ideas, five minutes to take down ideas about a possible story. 50 minutes to write a thousand- word short story. Three hours for 3000 words.
The easiest stories to write are fiction. And the easiest of these fiction stories is a story which is all dialogue. The first speaker says something threatening or cynical or offhand about the second speaker. The second speaker responds. The first speaker responds to that. The dialogue intensifies, there are insults, tempered by sudden bursts of affection or kindness. The story resolves itself from the writer’s unconscious — and what comes up in the dialogue.
Fiction, in my case, is always done in an ironical tone, tongue-in-cheek, often funny, existential, derived from my past. But not intentionally serious. Minimally controlled.
When I write fiction, I consider it worthless, dangerous, disgusting. I do it easily, it is fun. It is my smoothest writing. It has no importance. It is subversive, mischievous, laughing at the world and myself. It’s easy to publish fiction because people want escape, want to read what they’re used to — fiction writers borrowing from fiction writers, an endless relay of lies. I’m amused, disgusted, by how easily I do it, how readily it is accepted. It is like going to church, everyone knows the format, it’s comfortable, everyone around you knows, expects, the same thing. It is endlessly repeating, brainless, the same story. Requires minimal energy, no thought. Comfortable, and deadly safe, like twilight of sleep. Seemingly harmless. As harmless as a tranquilizer, or one more drink. Choir preaching to the choir. Like a subtle drift to death. Brainless.
Rewriting, the necessity to rewrite, is merely a bad habit. An initial laziness which requires mop-up. A drunk slopping his drink as he goes from the bartender to his seat, only in this case he has to go back, clean up his own, lazy, only-half-there droppings. A bad habit, developed over countless repetitions of the same mental block/malaise, half-speed, “anything is better than nothing,” an accepted escape mechanism unfortunately used in the beginning to “get over the hump,” then done again and again, half-assed way of getting something down on paper — until finally the poor writer can start writing no other way, half-hearted, half-there, sloppiness, laziness, not important — it can be cleaned up later, put right.
A habit, like a tired housewife putting up with intercourse — because it is familiar, it might lead to, on occasion, something more interesting. Merely a habit, a bad habit, an accidental bad solution to the problem — how to get started? The difficulty is, like any bad habit, finally it impedes, diminishes, becomes worse. And finally, the bad habit of the writer knowing he will re-write, thus can be sloppy on the first draft, becomes worse and more powerful, until the writer spends more and more time re-writing timid, lazy, uninspired, no-heart writing, until it becomes a necessity to rewrite a dozen times because each rewrite is weakened by the expectation, thus necessity, of re-writing again, again, again.
I have no interest in talking to escape writers — science-fiction, romance, mysteries, detective novels — fiction. Lies borrowed from liars, borrowed endlessly from endless generations of liars — fiction. I have no interest in talking to writers who feel real life, their life, their experiences, is uninteresting, boring, useless. If they think so, I agree with them. Odds are they?re right. They shouldn’t attempt to be a writer. They have nothing to offer. They should be lawyers or brick layers or chicken farmers. They shouldn’t write about their own lives, because they are boring. And they shouldn’t write fiction, that is, lies, because there are more than enough lies already.
I’m interested only in talking to writers very much like myself. And only if they are 18 to 30. After 30, a few. But mostly no, they?re lost. Like trying to cure an alcoholic. But a few, maybe. Late bloomers. Still innocent, by accident.
Actually, the only writers I’m mildly interested in talking to — writers very much like myself — don’t need me to talk to them. They, like me when I was young, are inspired, unconscious-gifted, by the great autobiographical writers they read: Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, D. H. Lawrence, Theodore Dreiser, Somerset Maughm. Maughm only in one book, “Of Human Bondage.” Roth, Mailer, Bellow, Agee, Burroughs, Jack London, Orwell, Conroy, Kerowac, Melville, James T. Farrell. “All great fiction is autobiographical since authors write most effectively about what they know.” Judith S. Baughman.
Write what you know, not what you read. Great writers illuminate life. Hack writers facilitate escape from life. Commercial writing is first cousin to booze, over-eating, cocaine. Temporary escape. Life then worse. Literature begins when the young writer is inspired by true-life, autobiographical novels, is inspired to say, “I could do that! I have to tell my life!” I’m interested only in those writers.
The hour is up. 1000 words. No, that?s fiction. Only 925.
grantflint.com web site blogs about writing what you know, not what you read.